American Apartment Horror Story: Maintenance

While most horror stories include ghosts and monsters, living in student housing can be just as scary; apartment horror stories can range from poor maintenance response to uncomfortable situations.

Students have an array of options when it comes to housing in Lubbock: houses, lofts, and apartments. Regardless of location, one thing many students have experienced at various complexes is the unreliability of maintenance services.

Hannah Lindley, a Texas Tech University student and U-Lofts resident, said her maintenance woes began at the beginning of the summer, but have recently become more frequent.

“The problems mostly started at the end of last spring,” Lindley said. “These last few weeks, they have been left and right.”

U-Lofts is located right next to the campus of Texas Tech University. Picture provided by U-Lofts.

U-Lofts is located right next to the campus of Texas Tech University. Picture provided by U-Lofts.

The problems consist mainly of malfunctioning appliances, but she said she has also had issues with her Wi-Fi. U-Lofts, located at 1001 University Ave., is responsible for both of these amenities.

She said her dishwasher was broken all summer, and while this was mainly an inconvenience when she returned, she said she pays for a functioning dishwasher. Lindley said she had to put in at least three maintenance requests before the problem was resolved.

Jeannie Harvey, U-Lofts Manager, said maintenance issues should be fixed within 48 hours, but sometimes it takes longer because of the need for new parts or the submission of the request being made right before a weekend and after the main office closes. She said residents can submit a maintenance request through their online resident portal, email, over the phone or in-person.

However, Harvey said the complex did not have any work orders submitted in May that took all summer to be fixed.

“If she truly turned in a work order before she left,” Harvey said. “It would have been fixed whether she was here or not.”

Lindley maintains she had her boyfriend submit the initial request at the beginning of the summer. The problems did not end there. After she returned to town, Lindley said her refrigerator stopped working. She said maintenance did patch jobs on it four times until they finally replaced the unit.

Over the course of these repairs, she said she threw away around $50 worth of food. Lindley recalled that last week was a culmination of many problems.

“Last week, we had a not working refrigerator, a not working dishwasher and our Wi-Fi was down,” Lindley said.

Lindley pays around $950 a month for the single bedroom unit with bills included. As of now, she said the problems have been resolved.

Problems with appliances and Wi-Fi are not all residents have to worry about. Sam Moore, a Texas Tech graduate and former two-year resident of The Ranch, located at 1002 Frankford Ave., said he had numerous issues with maintenance during his time living there.

The worst thing he remembers was an instance in which the complex responded to his roommate’s complaint of scratching noises coming from inside his ceiling.

“We all got real quiet and you could hear chirping and scratching basically above his bed,” Moore said. “Like above the sheetrock.”

The Ranch is a student housing complex located north on Frankford Ave. Picture provided by The Ranch.

The Ranch is a student housing complex located north on Frankford Avenue. Picture provided by The Ranch.

After the roommates agreed there was something up there, he said they called the complex’s maintenance. He said maintenance’s first response was to board up the hole on the exterior of the building, which separated a mother bird from her offspring.

The nest was still inside of the building, so the chirping and scratching continued. They again called maintenance.

Moore said maintenance to the apartment with four items: a reaching tool, a stepladder, a sheetrock saw and a trash bag.

“I’m sitting here watching them and they set up the stepladder and don’t put any kind of drop clothes down or anything and they just jack a hole in the sheetrock,” Moore said. “Covered all his stuff in his entire room in this hazy dust from the drywall.”

Upon creating the hole, Moore said they used the grabber tool to remove the live birds and then dispose of them in the trash bag. After the last bird was in the trash bag, he said the crew moved out of the room and back downstairs to their golf cart.

“I’m watching the dude who has got the trash bag full of birds and the dude just whips it onto the concrete – thwack – and throws it in the dumpster,” Moore explained. “They didn’t even fix the hole.”

He said they did come the next day and put a patch on the ceiling to cover up the hole, but things were not back to normal for another few weeks. Moore said this was the first time he and his roommates became skeptical of The Ranch’s maintenance.

Amy Bennett, regional manager for Homestead U, the student housing company that manages The Ranch, said it has a four-person maintenance crew: a lead maintenance position, two technician positions and a groundskeeper position. She said the current lead has been on the crew for a long time.

“My lead maintenance supervisor has been here going on eight years,” Bennett said. “He’s a long term employee of ours.”

Bennett said the crew goes through background checks and drug screenings. This crew takes care of the majority of the work around the complex. She said there are times when other workers come on the premises, but only for two things: move-in preparation and renovation projects.

Rachel Blevins, a Texas Tech student and current two-year resident of The Ranch, said her problems with maintenance began in August, which coincides with the move in preparation period described by Bennett. She said she had problems with their workmanship, their treatment of her property and their lack of consideration when entering her apartment.

Several examples of the work done by maintenance workers in Blevins' apartment. Pictures provided by Blevins.

Several examples of the work done by maintenance workers in Blevins’ apartment. Pictures provided by Blevins.

Bennett said they inform residents in writing of when these other workers will be on-site and they make sure to specify these workers will be in and out, but do not give specific times of when to expect them.

Blevins said her first incident occurred when she was working in her living room. She said she was alone because her previous roommates had moved out upon graduation.

“All of a sudden, the door opens and this guy walks in,” Blevins said. “He has no tools, nothing, he just walks in and says he is there to paint the walls in one of the bedrooms and that I need to leave my apartment in order for him to do that.”

She said she explained to him she would not leave because she did not know anyone was coming. She said he did not even knock on her door.

“You have young women living in an apartment by themselves and whenever a man walks in and he has no tools and says ‘I’m here to paint’,” Blevins said. “You don’t really know what to expect, you don’t know what his intentions are and that puts us in a bad scenario.”

According to Bennett, the policy for maintenance is very clear and is followed. When asked about their policy, she said knocking is mandatory.

“We always do,” Bennett said. “I mean, our standard policy is the guys knock multiple times.”

Bennett said with apartments having up to four bedrooms, sometimes residents cannot hear maintenance knocking. Blevins, however, was in her living room.

Blevins said the next day she went to the complex office to complain. She said upon speaking with a manager, she was told they would talk to the workers about knocking.

While Bennett said the workers knock before they walk into residences, she said residents have privacy locks that can be used to keep people out of the unit.

“So, on her end also, she needs to put her privacy lock on, especially if she is the only one there,” Bennett said. “Then no one else would be able to enter.”

Blevins admitted said she did not know the lock on her door was supposed to work like that, because the lock on her door does not work, as shown in this video. Upon finding out, Blevins placed a maintenance request to have it fixed.

“I don’t think they ever started knocking,” Blevins said. “Even though I complained a total of four times overall to management about the issues there, there was never a solution.”

On top of that complaint, Blevins said the work that has been done in the apartment has also left a lot to be desired.

“They did such a terrible job painting that a five-year-old probably could have done better,” Blevins said. “There were spots of paint on the carpet they had just laid, there were spots of paint on the floor.”

Spots of paint landed on the floor as well as the carpet. Picture provided by Blevins.

Spots of paint landed on the floor as well as the carpet. Picture provided by Blevins.

She said they did not even put down a tarp to protect the interior of the apartment.

Blevins said when they installed the carpet, the workers left her bathroom a mess with urine on her toilet and the floor. She said they also used a whole roll of toilet paper.

Blevins said she rarely would see the same workers during this time unless it was an instance where she asked them to leave and they showed back up the next day.

Blevins said she complained to management in a lot, if not all of these situations, but does not feel it was cared for to the proper extent.

“They weren’t very sympathetic to the problems had by the tenants,” Blevins said. “All of the managers we have had have been women and when you have a young woman coming to you saying, ‘Hey there are grown men walking into my apartment and I don’t feel safe,’ and then you don’t take the proper precautions to really listen to that and address that issue, that’s rough.”

She said she is going to petition the apartment to let her get out of her lease early because of how miserable she was this past summer. She does not want to live there for another summer.

About Joseph Marcades

Investigative Reporter - Media and Communications Undergraduate Student, Class of 2017, working on a degree in journalism. He loves his wife, football, golf, film, Texas, and good stories.

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